FOIA reveals that the DEA was ‘infiltrating’ BLM protests last June These are some inital thoughts we’ve had on this news and impacts on organizing for justice and free speech here in Philadelphia, and what steps you can take to keep yourself and your crew safer in the future.
What we know so far… Last summer, the Barr DOJ authorized the DEA to operate outside it’s regular jurisdiction in response to the mass BLM protests. The PPD actively reached out to DEA on June 2 to request undercover agents to ‘infiltrate crowds’, thru the infamous Narcotics Unit and Deputy Commissioner Dennis Wilson, who later resigned because of his role in the teargassing of 676. There were DEA agents at a unknown but substantial number of BLM protests in Philly from June 2 – June 7, to ‘identify protest leaders’
Through the amazing work of the thinktank Citizens for Ethics (aka CREW), they used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get a set of emails between the City and the DEA. So this is bad, but don’t the PPD do this all the time? Why is this news?’ Time for a little history…
Wilson Goode and Pledge of Resistance v. We the People 200 Philly hosted the national bicentennial of the signing of the Constitution. Protests were planned by a constellation of different groups in Philly under the umbrella ‘Pledge of Resistance’.
The PPD claimed (without a shred of evidence) that the protestors were attempting to kidnap a federal official and hold them hostage. The PPD was authorized to infiltrate these groups.
Surprise! PPD bungled it and it came out in the press. After a huge outcry then-Mayor Goode issued a mayoral directive forbidding PPD from spying on political groups. This happens simultaneously with a permanent injunction placed by a judge from a lawsuit brought by the precursors of Up Against the Law which is still legally in effect today. Since these limitations, the PPD has constantly tried to dodge the restrictions that were put in place to stop this exact thing. The most high profile example of this is the PPD coordinated with the Pennsylvania State Troopers to place undercovers ahead of the 2000 RNC (based on “leads” from the John Birch Society) which lead to a raid on a puppet warehouse in West Philly.
We know historically that infiltration of Black political organizing has always been a part of the toolbox of White supremacy. FOIAs like this one were key in uncovering undercover surveillance of Malcolm X, MLK, and Huey P. So…Where to go from here?
One of the goals of infiltration is to suppress political participation. They’re trying to scare us into staying home rather than standing up for justice, don’t let them.
Don’t snitch on yourself; cover up tattoos, don’t wear identifiable clothing, and wear a mask to keep the people around you safe from COVID.